The US is in a tough spot militarily.
In Syria, Russia and Iran have taken advantage of the fact that the plan hatched by the West and its regional allies to destabilize the Assad regime took far too long to develop. The idea was to foment discord and provide covert support for the various armed militias fighting to overthrow the government. But the effort is entering its fifth year and Assad is still there. Not only that, there have been a series of unintended (well, at least we hope they’re unintended) consequences. First, one of the rebel groups the West and its allies supported morphed into an insane band of white basketball shoe-wearing, black flag-waving, sword-wielding desert bandits. Second, the fighting created a horrific refugee crisis that now threatens to destabilize the whole of Europe. Sensing a historic geopolitical opportunity, Moscow and Tehran simply stepped in and outmaneuvered Washington. Now, the US basically has to decide whether it wants to go to war with Russia, because paradropping ammo into the middle of the desert isn’t going to be a viable strategy.
Meanwhile, the US faces another superpower confrontation in the South China Sea. Continue reading
Back in May we highlighted an infographic showing how China stacks up, from the perspective of maritime military might, to its neighbors and to the US.
The context (of course), is the ongoing dispute over China’s land reclamation project in the South China Sea where Beijing has constructed, at last count, some 3,000 acres of sovereign territory atop reefs in the Spratlys. Continue reading
These Chinese ‘geologists’ could also very likely be understating the true significance and size of the deposits. The state-run oil companies do the bidding of the CCP. Today’s CCP is still rooted in ancient Chinese history and follows the philosophy of Sun Tzu, therefore appearing weak when strong, and applying this method to any given situation. The territory dispute is another story. However, in hindsight, the Chinese wouldn’t be trying so hard to acquire this field given the fact that the deposit size will only contribute a fraction of the gas output they need.
BEIJING: Chinese state-run oil companies hope to develop seven new gas fields in the East China Sea, possibly siphoning gas from the seabed beneath waters claimed by Japan, a move that could further inflame tensions with Tokyo over the disputed area.
Beijing had slowed exploration in the energy-rich East China Sea, one of Asia’s biggest security risks due to competing territorial claims, but is now rapidly expanding its hunt for gas, a cheaper and cleaner energy to coal and oil imports. Continue reading
This is also another reason that the Soviets, Chinese and Germans patrol the open seas and hunt pirates that articles won’t normally mention. The primary goal is not the pirate hunting itself. Aside from “maritime trade” routes, the primary goal can also be territorial claim and control of strategic waterways once you establish a regular patrol routine. Another benefit for these countries is that it’s free training for the military and even weapons testing without having an actual war. The pirates could’ve have been hunted down in their own country or a war between nations would have happened by now should they be an actual threat.
These militarization plans are certainly not a reaction merely to considerations of how to combat more effectively piracy off the coast of Somalia, but to geostrategic considerations as well. For example, last year Volker Perthes, Director of SWP, pointed out that the “interests” behind the countries’ sending their naval vessels to the Horn of Africa are not “limited to the war on piracy.” Perthes explains that, over the past few years, the importance of the Indian Ocean, where piracy is being fought in its western sector, has enormously grown. “One third of the world’s maritime trade” crosses this route, with the trend rising rapidly. Particularly East Asian countries, especially China, are making large infrastructure investments in the bordering countries – port facilities or transportation means -, which are “also elements of the geostrategic competition.” It is, after all, “it goes without saying” that China and even India have “an interest in protecting their maritime links.” Even though the United States “will remain the strongest maritime power in the Indian Ocean, for the foreseeable future,” it will soon “no longer be the sole maritime power.” Perthes warns that “the new momentum in the greater region of the Indian Ocean” should not be neglected and one must also be involved.
Full article: With Submarines against Pirates (German Foreign Policy)
Two Canadian legal scholars have published a study showing how the push by northern nations for extended seabed territory in the Arctic Ocean could soon find Canada negotiating a maritime boundary with a new nextdoor neighbour: Russia.
Most of Canada’s borderlands and boundary waters separate this country from the United States. Canada also has maritime boundaries with Denmark and France, which oversees the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon south of Newfoundland.
But the possibility Canada and Russia might one day share a border has, until now, seemed unimaginable given the vast ocean distances separating the two countries, and the relatively modest 370-kilometre (200-nauticalmile) offshore zone within which nations are permitted to exercise exclusive jurisdiction and resource rights.
Full article: Canada and Russia border buddies? May yet share maritime boundary (Leader-Post)